HomeMatch Reports2000-2001 - Wigan Athletic 2 Luton Town 1

Nationwide League Division Two - Saturday 19th August 2000

Wigan Athletic
Pat McGibbon 8
Andy Liddell 78
Wigan Athletic
Luton Town
Julian Watts 51
Kick-off: 15:00
Venue: JJB Stadium
Referee: Jeff Winter (Middlesbrough)
Attendance: 6,518

Report by: John Patrick Heeley

Wigan Athletic 2 Luton Town 1 Latics took maximum points at the JJB Stadium in their opening home game of the new season courtesy of a magnificent set piece goal from Man of the Match Andy Liddell. Wigan now move to fourth place in the league.

Only two games into the season but the result was oh so important nonetheless,

Luton Town, also with a new manager in Ricky Hill, were all out to gaim their first win of the season after the home reverse against Notts County on the opening day of the season.

In retrospect Wigan, labelled again by the bookmakers as 3/1 favourites for the Division Two title were odds on favourites to dispose of the Kenilworth road side and it took a magical set piece to do just that. However, it wasn't as easy as the bookies suggested.

The first half was an hard fought affair but with Wigan creating the majority of the chances.

It didn't take Latics long to force the advantage and on 8 minutes Haworth broke free in the area and forced a corner.

Darren Sheridan stepped up to the flag and drove a ball to the far post where it was met by full-back PAT McGIBBON who nodded in almost unmarked to make it 1-0. McGibbon did his international chances no harm as Northern Ireland manager Sammy McIllroy was sat in the stand watching over the defender and goalkeeper Roy Carroll ahead of the forthcoming World Cup qualifier against Malta.

Now, much to the disbelief of the Wigan Athletic faithful, and out of view of the Luton 200 or so following, the ultimate insult was thrown. The scoreboard clocked up Wigan Warriors 1 Halifax Blue Sox 0.

Luton pushed forward from the re-start and on 11 minutes a Peter Holmes well took corner was just cleared by the Wigan defence.

Within a minute Luton gained a free kick on edge of the area which was slotted into the middle of the box and flicked clear for a corner.

Wigan then took the game by the horns and on 16 minutes striker Simon Haworth intercepted a bad pass from the Luton defence and broke free down the middle of the park. He slotted a perfect ball to Liddell who was racing down the pitch to his right only for his fellow striker to completely fluff his effort and Luton easily cleared the danger.

The next real 'chance' fell to Wigan and Haworth when on 35 minutes the Welshman found himself with room on the edge of the 'D' only to slice his effort wide to the right of the target.

Then a minute later, the referee got himself involved in the game after allowing the previous half hour or so to run reasonably smoothly.

Wigan were award a free kick midway into the Luton half and Luton's Paul McLaren was shown the first yellow of the game for what appeared to be time wasting. Latics, much to the the bemusement of Wigan's Neil Redfearn who was about to take the kick, were allowed to move the ball ten yards forward - new fangled rules and all that.

Redfearn moved his ball ten yards forward, as instructed, and blasted his kick way over the bar but then next sixty seconds or so were a slight bit weird.

Overdale punted his dead ball kick into the Wigan half, the ball was cleared back into Luton territory to Luton's Marvin Johnson. Wigan midfielder Kevin Nicholls, who was red carded last Saturday during the opening game of the season against Swansea, lunged at Johnson taking him down but referee Winter waved on playing advantage.

Veteran Luton striker Mark Stein was then yellow carded for dissent, possibly complaining to the referee about the Nicholls' tackle. Wigan then broke free down the right wing, with Johnson still 'crippled' on the deck midway into his own half, when the referee stopped open play on the half way line, booked Nicholls for the earlier 'challenge' and awarded Luton a free kick. It's all beyond me!

Luton's best chance of the first half by far came on the stroke of half time when a bad pass in defence by Scott Green was intercepted by Luton's Liam George who weaved forward into the area and drove a low shot which Carroll did exceptionally well, diving to his right to palm behind for a corner.

Half Time: Wigan 1 Luton 0

Luton started the second half with a bit more determination and their efforts were rewarded on 51 minutes when JULIAN WATTS nodded in at the far post from a corner.

Wigan manager Bruce Rioch replaced the tiring Nicholls a couple of minutes later and brought on Spaniard Roberto Martinez in a bid to put some fresh legs into the flagging Wigan midfield.

Luton's Peter Holmes skyed a volley over the Wigan bar on 55 minutes before, at the other end of the park, Neil Redfearn did exactly the same following a goalmouth scramble.

Just before the hour mark Luton's Liam George stole down the left and passed a lovely through ball to Stein whose effort was well stopped by the diving Carroll.

Latics immediately went on the attack and skipper Carl Bradshaw chipped a perfect cross from the left into the middle of Luton's penalty area only for Liddell to nod over the bar.

Martinez drove over the bar on 63 minutes from 30 yards out before getting himslef into the referee's notepad a minute later for a trip on Matthew Taylor midway into the Wigan half. The resulting kick driven 5 yards wide of the mark.

Wigan were awarded a corner on 70 minutes, the ball broke free to Martinez on the right after a goalmouth scramble, the Spaniard lobbed the ball deep into Luton's area, finding De Zeeuw who flicked a header behind him, clearing the defence only for Liddell to find himself a couple of yards short on the back post.

A couple of minutes later Darren Sheridan placed a ball across the front of Luton's goal but there was no one there to meet it as the chance went begging.

Wigan sealed the points just as they were trying to bring on new signing Lee Ashcroft in a bid to add a bit more up front.

As the former Preston, West Brom and Grimsby striker was waiting on the touchline, with the assistant referee ready with the digital board, Haworth was brought down by two Luton players as they tussled for the ball 10 yards from the Luton penalty area.

Sheridan lined up the free kick with Redfearn placed in ancitipation square to his left. Sheridan pushed the ball to Redfearn and everyone expected a pile driver. But no, the midfielder placed a perfect ball, splitting the Luton defence in half, to LIDDELL racing into the penalty area, and last season's Player of the Year and today's sponsor's Man of the Match placed the ball with pin point accuracy past the advancing Ovendale in the Luton goal. Wigan then managed to bring on Ashcroft for Scott Green.

Wigan had a scare in injury time when Carroll was forced to tip a 30 yarder over the bar from Luton substitute Brennan.

Full time and the season's first win was in the bag, much to the relief of the majority of the crowd.

Thought for the day: Has anyone got the address of the scoreboard operator?

  • Luton Town
  • Mark Ovendale
  • Matthew Taylor
  • Marvin Johnson 46
  • Julian Watts
  • Emmerson Boyce
  • Peter Holmes 83
  • Paul McLaren
  • Andrew Fotiadis
  • Liam George
  • Mark Stein
  • Adam Locke 73
  • Nathan Abbey
  • Dean Brennan 83
  • Andre Scarlett 73
  • Jude Stirling
  • Stuart Fraser 46
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